Ford’s New App Is A Victim Blaming Exercise

Ford Motor Co. is developing a smartphone app that can warn car drivers about people walking or cycling, even if they aren’t directly visible. According to the company, apps on pedestrians’ phones use Bluetooth to broadcast their location. The vehicle calculates the risk of an accident and warns the driver with on-screen graphics in the vehicle and audio alerts.

“New Ford vehicles already equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology can detect and help warn drivers about pedestrians, cyclists, scooter riders and more—and even brake if the driver doesn’t respond in time,” said Jim Buczkowski, executive director of the research. and development. engineering at Ford. “We are now looking at ways to extend vehicle sensing capabilities, to areas where drivers cannot see, to help people drive more confidently on roads that are increasingly being traveled by others on their two- or two-legged wheels.”

Why It Matters to Treehugger

Safe roads and walkable communities are key to reducing our carbon emissions from driving. While smaller cars have better fuel efficiency, fewer emissions, and are significantly safer for pedestrians, light trucks (pickups, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans) account for more than 75% of all new vehicle sales. Meanwhile, pickups and SUVs, heavier vehicles with a higher front-end profile, were at least twice as likely to kill the pedestrians, runners and children they hit. Treehugger prioritizes pedestrian safety and advocates for regulations that make light trucks more sustainable and less lethal.

The statement explains how the system will use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to “complement other technologies by communicating with other devices equipped with sufficient range for alerts with the potential to advance safety through awareness of pedestrians, cyclists and more. BLE is also doing this.” . does not rely on line of sight detection like cameras or radar, meaning pedestrians and others can be detected while hiding behind obstructions such as buildings. This is especially relevant to the stress of driving in a big city on shared roads.”

Ford is part of the Vulnerable Road User Safety Consortium formed by vehicle, bicycle, ridesharing and technology companies to find technological solutions to the increasing number of accidents with pedestrians, cyclists and others. They’ve all been working on this for years; we have seen this film before.

Bike to Vehicle

In 2018, Ford announced a system that uses cellular communications to allow vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, pedestrian devices, bicycles, and roadside infrastructure, including traffic signs and construction zones, called V2X or vehicles for everything. Some see this technology as key to making autonomous cars work, with Bez at Singletrack noting that “to solve the problem of autonomous vehicles, one must not only control the vehicle, but must also control the system.”

To function properly, everyone must have the app so the vehicle will know where everyone is. So first it may be mandatory for people who cycle, and then at some point, people who walk if they want the traffic lights to change for them. As Bez notes, “The V2X app on a smartphone is easy enough, but people will still try to roam freely. So jaywalking laws will cover a tricky incident where a car failed to detect people in an unexpected place: if the worst happened, at least the vehicle maker will not be held responsible. Cross at a V2X enabled intersection, or in your head either way.”

Volvo is trying this with a smart helmet that talks to both the phone and the car.


As we noted, this technology is not about making the world safer for pedestrians and cyclists; it’s about making the world safer for vehicles. Instead of fixing roads, drivers and cars, they will fix pedestrians.

It’s about shifting responsibility and blame from the driver to the people around the vehicle. “Bicycle riders or pedestrians don’t carry cell phones with the app” is the new “cyclists don’t wear helmets” or “peders wear black hoodies.”

In its statement, Ford acknowledged the surprising number of pedestrians killed by cars and trucks in the US. The company states: “The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data estimates traffic fatalities to increase 13 percent to 7,342 in 2021 compared to the previous year, while cyclists traffic deaths increase by 5 percent — to 1,000 — during the same window.”

There’s a lot more they can admit: that their popular pickup truck and SUV designs disproportionately kill people on foot and on bicycles, that looking at the big screen in cars is distracting and maybe now having to search for pictures of people and bikes might not be a good idea, and Intelligent Speed ​​Assistance may be a good idea. Or how about instead of Ford Co-Pilot360 technology, they design their vehicles to European safety standards?

Instead, they prefer to blame the victim for not downloading their app.

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